BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Gov. Livingston baseball team lost a 2-1 state semi-final heartbreaker to the Somerville Pioneers on a one out walk-off single yesterday afternoon at the Torpey Athletic Complex in Bridgewater.
The Highlanders clung to a 1-0 lead through five innings before Somerville was able to tie the game in the 6th and push across the winner in the seventh inning for their 3rd consecutive 2-1 win in the state sectionals.
The disappointing loss ended the Highlanders season and dashed their hopes of repeating as a state sectional champion. The Highlanders close out a successful 2016 season with a 21-10 record and the schools first ever Union County Tournament Championship.
The sectional dream matchup(nj.com) between the number 3 seed GL and the number 2 seed Somerville certainly provided the excitement and drama that was much anticipated. The highly anticipated pitching matchup of Gov. Livingston ace Nick Cocchia against Somerville's Coastal Carolina (D1) bound Andrew Prescott didn’t materialize as the Pioneers started lefty Tom Disch instead. However, Somerville's choice to go with Disch proved to be a solid one as he matched Cocchia's’s dominance virtually inning by inning.
The Highlanders scratched out a run against Disch in the second inning to take the early lead. Cocchia led off and was hit by a pitch, Dan Baroff moved him over to second with a sacrifice bunt. Brian Cranston then jumped on the first pitch from Disch and lined a single into the outfield scoring Cocchia for the 1-0 GL lead.
The 1-0 GL lead held up through five full innings with Cocchia allowing only one hit and Disch only two, but that all changed in the home half of the sixth. After Cocchia got the first out of the inning, Somerville's best hitter Kellen Hardy lined a two strike single into centerfield which was the only hard hit ball against Cocchia up to that point in the game. The next two Pioneers reached on a sharp single and an infield hit which loaded the bases. Cocchia managed to get the next batter to hit a ground ball for a potential double play but the ball was mishandled which allowed a run to score tying the game.
More importantly, the bases now remained loaded with only one out, but Cocchia again showed how good of a pitcher he has become -- first striking out the next batter on a 2-2 pitch and getting the third out on a pop up to keep the game tied.
As the seventh inning began with the game now tied, one could sense that the momentum had shifted to the Pioneers and the Highlanders desperately needed to get it back. Baroff did his part by ripping a ball down the right field line for a double to open the inning. At that point Somerville made a pitching change taking Disch out of the game after he allowed only one run on 3 hits in six full innings of outstanding work. Senior Brian Cranston, who is the teams best bunter, sacrificed the GL pinch runner over to third with one out. Unfortunately for the Highlanders, Somerville reliever Tom Babbles was able to strikeout the next two GL batters stranding that go ahead run on third.
Somerville's Mike Miceli led off the home half of the 7th inning by driving a ball deep over the Highlander right fielder's head for a triple. Cocchia managed to get the next hitter to fly out with out the run scoring from third for the first out of the inning. After walking the next batter, GL decided to load the bases which brought up Babbles . Cocchia, working from a 2-2 count, got a ball up and Babbles was able to send it over the drawn in left fielders head for the game winning hit. Cocchia's final line 2 earned runs on 6 hits with 8 strikeouts.
The Highlanders will graduate five seniors; Captains Josh Katz ,Brain Cranston, and Matt Bruno who along with Lucas Vitollo and Brendan Lake will leave Gov. Livingston after being part of a Union County Championship (2016) and a State Championship (2015) while playing under Coach Roof.
The future looks bright for the Highlanders as Cocchia leads a young group players back looking for yet another GL baseball championship.
Dan Baroff 2017
CAPT. Matt Bruno 2016
Nick Cocchia 2017
John Colendenski 2017
Drew Compton 2019
CAPT. Brian Cranston 2016
Vin Doren 2017
DJ Gonnelli 2018
Liam Hulbert 2018
Will Jennings 2018
CAPT. Josh Katz 2016
Brendan Lake 2016
Tyler McCulloch 2018
Sam Pile 2018
Sean Savage 2017
Cole Schneider 2017
Dan Serretti 2018
Jace Tweeten 2017
Lucas Vitollo 2016